Ghastly Red Liquid

by Ashish

If you ever met me in, say, a bar, and asked me if the glass was half full or otherwise, I would always cast my vote in favour of the former. If it actually was a bar, I’d also proceed to try and render it empty, but that, for the purpose of this post, is neither here or there.

What is here or there in this case is the point that I prefer to look at the bright side of life. If people complain about the deplorable state of the Expressway that connects Bombay and Pune, for example, I sagely point out that we should be glad there is an Expressway in the first place. When folks gripe about how there is no 3G connectivity in certain far flung localities that neighbour Pune, I maintain a Buddha like composure and gently point towards the cheerier way of looking at things – that there is 3G at all. And given the chequered past of our beleaguered telecom ministry, I add, that is saying something. When gatherings I am a part of bemoan the dishonest lot our politicians are, I admit defeat. For some mountains even my optimism cannot conquer.

But ninety eight times out of a hundred, I maintain a sunny outlook towards life. One case in which my optimism packs it bags and goes home is in the case of those who would lay claim to the administration of our country. That makes ninety nine. And the other case in which my optimism suffers a knock-out blow is when I see people spit on the road.

What, dear reader, about our genetic code compels a majority of our brethren to open the door of the car, lean forward, and deposit gallons of ghastly red liquid on the road? All over the country, irrespective of caste, religion and language, one thing that unites Indians is our irresistible urge to spit on the road. And I don’t know about you, but I positively loathe the sight.

Just the other day, I rode up to a signal on the road, on the right side of a large stately vehicle. That sort of large, stately vehicle which spelt out the word W-E-A-L-T-H in no uncertain terms. It was a wonderful vehicle to look at, and I had just about settled into a period of quiet, satisfied contemplation when the door adjacent to the driver opened, and the upper half of a decidedly corpulent body leaned forward.

It was festooned in a white shirt, this upper half of the decidedly corpulent body, and the buttons on the upper reaches of this white shirt were open. I remember this clearly because they revealed more hair than a grizzly could hope to have on his entire body. The face that was placed on top of this less than pleasing sight would have been well advised to stay away from beauty pageants.

The face quickly took in the sights nearby, and latched onto a suitable patch of the road as a target. Said target was just behind my left foot. With the assured aim that must have no doubt come from years of practise, the face unleashed a sharp, elongated burst of that lovely red liquid. In what was a purely reflex action, your author moved his left foot forward.

The face, it’s job done for the moment, looked up. It registered the shock and distate on my face. It (the face) contorted into what it thought was a smile. And it spoke.

“OK” it said. “Eet’s OK.”

And having reassured me, it withdrew into its lair, and thwacked the door shut upon itself. The signal went green, and we went our separate ways. You’ll forgive my optimism when it throws up hand in defeat in this case.